Germany Women Profile
|Major Honours||Women's World Cup (2), Olympic Gold Medal (1), UEFA Women's Championship (8)|
Germany’s national women’s football team, known affectionately as Die Nationalelf (The National Eleven), is one of the most successful in the history of women’s football.
They were FIFA Women's World Cup winners in 2003 and 2007 and have won a record eight Women's European Championships (in 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013).
Germany's women's team was founded in 1982 and has often held the number one spot in the FIFA world rankings. They first ascended to the summit of women's football in October 2003 and remained there until 2007, returning to the top of the world rankings in December 2014 until June 2015 and then again in March 2017.
Early history of Die Nationalelf
Germany's national women's team was finally founded in 1982 by the German Football Association (DFB) after nearly three decades of resistance.
In 1955, the DFB made the decision to forbid women's football clubs in West Germany. They offered an explanation for their decision, saying "this combative sport is fundamentally foreign to the nature of women" and that "body and soul would inevitably suffer damage". They also claimed that the "display of the body violates etiquette and decency".
Nevertheless, over 150 unofficial international matches were played during the 1950s and 1960s. The ban on women's football was eventually lifted in 1970 by the DFB, but it took some time still until they introduced a women's national football team.
While competitors formed women's national teams throughout the 1970s, the DFB did not do so. In 1981, DFB official Horst R. Schmidt was invited to send a team to the unofficial women's world football championship and accepted the invitation, withholding the fact that Germany did not yet have a women's team.
The DFB sent German club champions Bergisch Gladbach 09 to the tournament and they went on to win it, effectively forcing the DFB's hand. They could no longer delay the foundation of a women's national team. DFB president Hermann Neuberger tasked Gero Bisanz, an instructor at the Cologne Sports College, with executing the task in 1982.
Bisanz was unable to lead West Germany to qualification for the European Championships in 1984 or 1987, but they finally came good in 1989, qualifying for the tournament which was to take place on home soil.
In front of a crowd of 22,000 at Osnabruck, West Germany beat Norway 4-1 to claim their first major title.
Germany Women and their success after reunification
The East German football association merged with the DFB after reunification. East Germany's women's football team only played one official international fixture, losing 3-0 to Czechoslovakia in a friendly.
Unified Germany faced Norway once again in the final of the 1991 European Championships, with goals from Heidi Mohr and Silvia Neid in extra time giving them a 3-1 victory.
Germany travelled to the first Women's World Cup, which was played in China in November 1991. They made the semi-finals after wins over Nigeria, Taiwan and Italy in the group stages and then Denmark in the quarter-finals, but they lost 5-2 to the United States. In the third-place play-off, Germany were thumped 4-0 by Sweden.
After a semi-final exit in 1993, Germany regained their European Championship title in 1995. They beat Sweden 3-2 in a closely-fought final courtesy of goals from Maren Meinert, Birgit Prinz and Bettina Wiegmann.
At the 1995 Women's World Cup in Sweden, Germany made the final of the tournament for the first time, but lost 2-0 to Norway.
The 1996 Olympics saw women's football introduced, but after Germany's disappointing group-stage exit, Bisanz resigned as head coach and was succeeded by Tina Theune.
Rising to the top of the world
Theune's reign got off to the ideal start when Germany beat Italy 2-0 in the 1997 European Championship final courtesy of goals from Sandra Minnert and Birgit Prinz.
However, Germany only managed to qualify for the 1999 World Cup via a play-off and lost 3-2 to the USA in the quarter-finals.
A Claudia Muller golden goal secured victory for Germany over Sweden in the 2001 European Championship final after they had finished third the previous year at the Olympics.
At the 2003 World Cup in the USA, Germany's hard work under Theune culminated in a glorious triumph. After beating Canada, Japan and Argentina in the group stage, Germany beat Russia 7-1 in the quarter-finals and stunned the USA 3-0 in the semi-finals. Nia Kunzer scored the winning golden goal against Sweden in the final and Birgit Prinz was the tournament's top goalscorer and best player.
The USA beat Germany in the semi-finals of the 2004 Olympics, but Germany beat Sweden to claim a second successive bronze medal.
In 2005, Germany beat Norway 3-1 to claim a sixth European Championship, with Inka Grings, Renate Lingor and Birgit Prinz scoring. Theune stepped down as head coach after the tournament and was replaced by Silvia Neid.
After winning the 2006 Algarve Cup, Germany won the 2007 World Cup without conceding a goal, beating Brazil 2-0 in the final.
Germany's decline in recent years
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Germany once again finished third after losing 4-1 to Brazil in the semi-finals, but beating Japan 2-0 for the bronze medal.
In 2009, however, Germany beat England 6-2 to claim the European Championship title once again.
Nevertheless, there was to be more disappointment in 2011 as Germany lost to Japan in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
Germany won another European Championship title in 2013, but lost to the USA in the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup and then to England in the third-place play-off.
At the 2019 World Cup, Germany beat South Africa, China PR and Spain in the group stage and Nigeria in the round of 16, but lost to Sweden in the quarter-finals. They failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The USA, Sweden and Norway have long been among the main teams who Germany have faced at key junctures. Brazil have also played some key matches against Germany, while Japan and England have also been strong competition.
Women's football was frowned upon in Germany throughout much of the 20th Century, including during the years under Bisanz.
However, the general public has picked up interest in women's football, perhaps largely due to the national team's impressive form in the 2000s.